Pitching > Pretty Much Everything

Whenever sports, history and dorkery collide, I like to be there. With Bobby Thomson’s death earlier this week, the Giants’ sign-stealing in 1951 has been a throw-in topic in some of the stories recapping the Giants-Dodgers pennant race that year (sign-stealing is, by far, the best type of cheating in sports). It’s long been a part of baseball lore, as the original G-Men finished the season a staggering 37-7 to catch Brooklyn and force the playoff that resulted in “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” But Division of Labour finds that Giants actually scored fewer runs once they started using the telescope:

Just one problem–there is no evidence that the sign stealing actually helped the Giants win. In fact, my recent paper in the Atlantic Economic Journal found that the Giants’ runs per game decreased after they started stealing signs.

So what made the difference? The same thing that always does:

Pitching–they allowed 1.4 fewer runs per game during the period they were stealing signs. Of course, the decrease in runs allowed was merely coincidental to the sign stealing.


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